CCMag, Big Picture Interview: Paul Glover

This interview appeared in the Community Currency Magazine (archive link), Oct 2011


1. What are the questions you would most want to explore with fellow movers and shakers in the complementary currency movement?

The comparability of local currencies with digital currency. Systems of intertrade and clearance, between all these currencies with standards of confederation to ensure each currency´s integrity and vitality.

2. What recent developments in the field do you find most exciting?

The variety and volume of innovation, regardless of specific characteristics. We are in an experimental phase, we are meeting needs that national currencies fail to meet. The greatest excitement for me therefor is the great variety not only of experimentation but also of needs to be met.

3. And what do you see as key challenges, obstacles or blind spots which hinder the movement’s success?

Its all about networking: we must have professional networkers so that community currencies become an institution, not a hobby.
We´ve seen so many currencies start and fail because the people starting them were excellent volunteers but they were not able to give it their total professional attention. This doesn´t only mean that the currency networkers act professionally but also earn at least a little income.

4. Where do you see untapped resources and unmet needs within the field of complementary currencies? And do you have any suggestions about how to bridge them?

Today there are so many more collaborative community systems: food coops, cooperative healthcare, ecological housing, cooperative banking systems and so-forth. But food people normally only talk about food, the healthcare people only talk about health-care. Local currency is a tool to bring all such systems together and magnify their impact. When I started the health coop in Ithaca, it didn´t only pay for stitches and the treatment of burns, but the members actually owned there own free clinic. And new members could join by paying with Ithaca hours. And finally the cooperative became a bank making loans without interest in Ithaca hours.

5. Besides financial support, what would help the acceleration of the monetary shifts that are needed?

We need cultural shifts to inspire creativity, engagement and local actions that replace passive consumerism and the culture of dependence on giant companies and big government. Big companies and big government are like mummy and daddy promising security. And even if they are bad parents people resist to rebel and to become responsive.
But seemingly impossible changes have happened. As a boy I grew up with cigarette smoking in every house, and now you´re frowned upon smoking even in the street. The world is getting better and worse and the media hold a lot of power: they tell us the world is getting worse and we all have to be afraid. But imagine they could become dedicated and tell us the world is full of active and very creative people, who care and who are helping, who set examples and you can do it also. If they would tell the stories of a million positive initiatives, people would become active in that direction.

6. What could bring about a tipping point in the shift from a monopoly of bank debt money toward a monetary ecology? And is the idea of a “tipping point” the best way of thinking about that change?

Theories are useful only when they prompt action. And many theories do not. I do not pay attention to these doomsday theories that say we have to shift within three years or we will all die, because they are not useful. The tipping-point theory concerning money will not make this tipping point happen sooner or later.
But the consideration of great human need and suffering suggests that the door is open wide for financial alternatives. And if we continue to experiment and work hard, we will make the point tip.

7. There are those who feel we need to organize ourselves more efficiently (the way the Right has done in the United States), and those who suggest that there is strength in our natural diversity or that networked systems organize themselves. Where do you stand on this question?

I believe both is true. As people develop new experiments the best of these example will inform new and even better examples. And as we continue to learn from one another we will gradually develop more efficient systems of collaboration and our ability to connect real economies becomes more powerful.

8. A lot of valuable community-building initiatives in this movement are done by dedicated people, as a labor of love, but would often highly benefit from actual financial support. if you were given $10,000 to $50,000 to invest in strengthening the currency movement, how would you invest these funds?

That amount would not be enough to make even a dent in the movement. I would put it into a concrete system to create a more successful local example and thus contribute to the local currency movement.
Twenty years ago we didn´t have any kind of movement and couldn´t ask questions like these or how we can fill the gaps of the world economy. Now we have experimented a lot, we have seen a lot of failure, and we have learned.
Today it is useful to go around the world and ask questions like these. It helps us to take a breath and a time to reflect. These questions play an important part at this stage of the development.

Postscript: With the financial meltdown in the US and the accelerated social polarization, is the CC movement ready to step up!

No, not yet, the movement is still a baby. But if the government would put the money they spend on one nuclear bomb or a space-shuttle on local currencies we could hire a lot of networkers who could go knock on doors and create catalogs of local capability. And properly promoted these catalogs could become the living heart of a new economy.

1. Professionalize the management/networking of local currency systems
2. Connect different local collaborative community systems
3. Enable intertrading between all kinds of currencies